Backed up: Referee John Cole has been vindicated after sending off a junior player who deliberately shoulder-charged him in the grand final.
Backed up: Referee John Cole has been vindicated after sending off a junior player who deliberately shoulder-charged him in the grand final.

Severe penalty for striking ref

JUDICIARY chairman Bill Gibbons has delivered a scathing rebuke to the Coffs Harbour rugby league player sent off by referee John Cole in the Group 2 under-16 grand final.

But he’s also left some light at the end of the tunnel for a shot at redemption.

After being represented by his parent and pleading guilty to a category 4 charge of deliberately striking a match official, a 17-week suspension was delivered after factoring in discounts and penalties.

The player was named in the report but due to his youth, the Coffs Coast Advocate has chosen not to publish it on this occasion.

A video of the incident was tendered and at one part of the evidence, a claim was made it was actually the referee who had struck the player.

In a written statement issued after the hearing, Gibbons did not pull punches.

“The player was given the opportunity to show remorse during the hearing but little or no remorse was shown for his action,” he wrote.

“The decision of the board in finding the player guilty was unanimous and based on video evidence there was no proof that the referee had walked into the player as claimed in his defence.

“The player was warned that should he appear before any judiciary board in the future and be found guilty of striking a referee he would be looking at a life suspension from rugby league (20 years).”

The incident was the second of its type this season and came after a Port Macquarie forward was handed a lengthy penalty after striking referee Jason Townley in a similar fashion in the under-18 preliminary final.

In part of the statement, Gibbons reflected the disquiet being felt in rugby league circles at the escalating lack of discipline among under-age players.

Examination of this player’s recent record shows a four-week suspension for fighting in 2008, being placed on report in an under-18 match last July and a two-week sentence for abuse on August 18.

The grand final was his first match back after completing that term.

“The board gets no pleasure from imposing such suspensions on players but in this case, based on the player’s lack of remorse, poor judiciary record and undisputable video evidence, it did not have any other choice but to impose such a harsh penalty,” the report stated.

“But as an act of good faith in giving young players a chance to redeem their reputations before their peers, Group and club officials, the board will allow (the player) to play in unofficial Group 2 trial matches in 2011 where he should be expected to act/play in a extemporary manner.

“Should he be dismissed for misconduct in any of these matches and be found guilty, an extremely lengthy suspension from participating in any activities involving rugby league will be imposed by this board.”

Under a new policy the exact terms of suspensions are spelled out with persons penalised unable to participate in any fashion, other than as a spectator.

Even in this facet, Group 2’s senior management are seeking advice to discover if tribunals have the power to ‘disqualify’ which would totally exclude offenders from venues anywhere in the world.

Gibbons has given the under-16 player 48 hours to consider an appeal.



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